End the School Year with Mindful Gratitude

 

Design

I’m sitting here on a Sunday afternoon in the sunshine contemplating the last three weeks of the school year. There is so much to do. Reports have been finished but still need to be printed and signed, the end of year performance is in it’s last days of prep, school trips are being prepared along with the million of things to prepare for the new school year that begins in only two months time. Children are tired, staff are tired and parents are waiting anxiously for the “tag you’re it” hand over that will be coming shortly. We can get lost in the whirlwind of the last few days.

Thankfulness leads to increased well-being and, especially, positive moods by increasing our general happiness that is lasting. The residual effects of happiness stay with us, particularly if we are mindful of the happiness and choose to “waddle” in happiness.

Participating in Mindful Gratitude could be a great way to tackle the end of the year. Spending some time reflecting on the wonder of the year, the achievements, the changes and the time that has passed can offer a respite to the chaos the end of year brings.

Take a look through the Gratitude ideas that may be the perfect solution to celebrating the end of an exciting year.

Thankful Wall– Each day until the end of the year, give each child a post-it note and have the children write one thing they have been grateful for his year. It could be big like mastering multiplication or small like getting to be in the same class as their best friend. Watching the gratitude grow gives children a visual link to gratitude.

Gratitude/Thankful diary– Each child has their own diary that they write, draw or glue in things they are thankful for in their lives. In times of upset, they can look through their diaries to remind themselves of all the things that make them thankful.

Thank You cards or letters– Old school! But, it is a powerful tool allowing children a tangible outlet to show gratitude to the people who have made a difference in their lives!

Gratitude Video– Get the children to work in small groups to make a series of videos acting or telling everyone in a creative way the things they have been thankful for this past year as part of a “Welcome to Your New Class” video for the next year’s class.

ABC Gratitude Book– As a class or as small groups, create an ABC Gratitude book with each letter being something they are thankful for. Have the children illustrate and make into a book to share with younger children.

#WeekOfGratitude– This is a five day activity to help yourself and your children mindfully focus on the good things in life. It is all explained here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/weekofgratitude-mindfulness-development/

Maybe you have a great idea! Share it with us in the comments below and help us all end the year being Mindfully Thankful. It will make us all feel good and focus on the important things in life.

Advertisements

A Teacher’s Mindfulness- A New Year Begins Part 2 Mindful Object Meditation

image

Our work days seem to be filled with thoughts flitting between lamenting what has happened in the past to what may happen in the future. Only 10% of our stress is due to what happens. 90% is due to what we think might happen. Mindfulness is returning your attention to the present.

However, as teachers, we get so caught up in the needs of our children, we forget about our own needs. We remind our children to be mindful and practice mindfulness strategies. However, we forget to practice mindfulness ourselves.

We need to give ourselves a reminder and can do this through the Mindful Object Meditation.

Mindful Object Meditation

Once you are dressed for the day, choose an object you are wearing to be your mindful object. It can be a ring, your id badge, necklace, tie, shoes, your watch, a button on your shirt, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it is something you will see several times.

During the day, at any point you notice your mindful object, touch it, take 3 *deep mindful breaths paying attention to the air flowing in and out your body.

*Deep Mindful Breath- Inhale for a count of 5, hold for a count of 1 and exhale for a count of 8.

This simple meditation takes only seconds. But, it fives mindful focus for those few seconds and calms the mind so that you can be the best teacher possible.

#21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge- Day 21 – Developing Mindfulness in Children

IMG_3961

Congratulations! You have made it to the last day of the #21DaysOfSummerMindfulness Challenge! Today we will end on a positive note and show gratitude!

We are a world of moaners. Whinging and moaning about everything from the weather to government is a favourite pastime of the young and old alike. We focus on the bad and are surprised by the good. This leads to a vicious cycle of negativity which then becomes the focus of our attention and anything positive is seen as just a fluke or fleeting moment.

By taking the time to be grateful and lingering in the grateful moment, we start to be mindful of the good things in the world. We start to see more positive things; positivity breeds positivity. We start to see the good in people, we crave it and, when we see it, we want to repeat even more good.

This MUST be modeled to children so that they can see the positive effects that gratitude can have on their personal lives.

Today, the challenge is a FAMILY challenge. I declare today, #RandomActsOfKindness Day!

We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of everyday life; mindlessly moving through the day without a real thought to what is happening to others around you. Today, our mindfulness practice with our children will focus on others. We will do this through random acts of kindness.

During the day, have the family randomly do some form of kindness for another person. It does not require any money, only your own free act of kindness.

If you are finding it hard to come up with some ideas, here are some to get you started.

  • Make a Thank You card for someone thanking them for their love, caring, help or any other thing that person has done for you.
  • Do a chore for a sibling or parent without asking.
  • Smile at a stranger that is looking sad.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice.
  • Write a positive note and leave it in a random place to be discovered by one or more people.
  • Email or write to a person who has made a difference in your life.
  • Let someone into your lane on your way to or from work.
  • Give someone an unexpected hug!

Have each family member try to do at least three RAKs during the day.

I hope that these past 21 days have given you and your child and opportunity to develop mindful practices that are having a positive effect on your lives.

Please let me know how you are getting on over time.

You can continue to follow via:

Blog: Education’s Voice https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @Ed_Tmprince

Facebook: Education’s Voice- Mindfulness https://www.facebook.com/educationsvoice/

 

#MonthOfMindfulness Challenge Day 9 – Developing Mindfulness One Day at a Time

image

It is not always easy for people to to identify what they are thankful for in their lives. The negativity over shadows all of the good things, blinding us from the the blessings in our life. However, if we can be mindful about showing gratitude, the positive feelings will beget more positive feelings and the balance of our lives will be happier and healthier.

A List Of Gratitude

Write down 5 things you are thankful for having in your life.
After you put a new “thankful” on your list, take a deep breath, smile and “wallow” in the pleasure of that gift. Take a moment to allow your mind to accept this bit of goodness.
Keep this list handy. Add to it over time. Refer to it when negativity starts to set in. Remind yourself that you are worthy.

Having a hard time identifying the positives? Maybe you can start with some of these:
– I am thankful that I am breathing.
– I am thankful that I am giving myself the chance to nurture positivity in my life.
– I am thankful that I can make positive choices.
– I am thankful for the sunshine (or rain).
– I am thankful for the beauty of (an object you enjoy looking at).

Make a mental note about this #mindfulmoment and congratulate yourself for being in the present.

Share your experiences here on the blog or on Twitter @Ed_Tmprince #MonthOfMindfulness .

#PositivePostItDay – A Growing Mindfulness

IMG_3961

I want to thank you right now. I want to thank you because you have taken this moment in time to read this post and, that alone, makes me happy and if you do not read even one more word, I still will feel deep gratitude.

Do you really know what gratitude is? Have you ever pondered the idea?

Gratitude is an emotional state of mind. To be gracious means to have an attitude towards life that gives us, as humans, a sense of rational and personal well-being. It is a strong feel good emotion that releases endorphins that relaxes the body and makes us feel happy. That is why positivity begets positivity! It is ADDICTIVE!

On Tuesday, people around the world celebrated #PositivePostItDay. The day began a few years ago by a young lady in Canada called Caitlin Haacke. After being bullied herself, she decided to take a stand against bullying. She single handily started the movement of positivity that is sweeping the world. Her belief that positivity begets positivity that began as an anti-bullying campaign, has led to children and adults alike considering their words carefully and filling the world with kindness, love and appreciation.

Gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness. Teaching children (and adults) to be thankful for the abundance in their lives as opposed to focusing on the actual material objects refocuses on emotions and feelings that raises self-confidence.

As Tuesday unfolded, I was filled with happiness seeing thousands and thousands of children and adults showing gratitude for each other and for themselves! The power of words has never been stronger.

@ecsaibel from Marin, CA, USA

FullSizeRenderFullSizeRender[1]

The children showed a depth of perception that went beyond the simple, “Thank you!”.

@LeeAraoz from Broadway Campus in Long Island, New York, USA

IMG_3977.PNG

People became creative and symbolic in their notes. Love and compassion were at the heart of what was happening across the schools.

@SaccoEric and @CCGSMS from Clifton-Clyde Grade and Middle School in Kansas, USA

FullSizeRender[3]

The emphasis was on building, not just a positive day, but a positive culture. A positive culture is not a one day wonder. It needs to be repeated over and over again.

@principalkubiak from Cordelia Hills Elementary School in Sonoma, CA, USA

FullSizeRender

The magnitude of the number of positive notes began to get mind boggling! Children were not happy with writing just one note, they had to write several notes. It was snow balling; leaving everyone in its wake on a wave of happiness!

@tsschmidty and @HarborViewElem from Harbor View Elementary in Corona del Mar, CA

FullSizeRender[1] FullSizeRender[2]

 Everyone left these schools feeling valued, loved, cared for and worthy of being a part of the community.

 @Ed_Tmprince and @Green_Lane_PA from Green Lane Primary Academy in Garforth, England

 IMG_3853

IMG_3857

IMG_3854

Over and over, the power of the words the children had for each other was overwhelming and powerful!

The effects began to spread past the school gates. Green Lane Primary Academy received one to two written compliments from parents nearly every day this week!

So, what now? We can’t have #PositivePostItDay every day, right? Or… can we?

OF COURSE WE CAN!

One child asked his mother on Wednesday if we could be positive that day as well.

It is important that we are teaching the children and ourselves that we need to be mindful of our gratitude. We need to remind ourselves how it felt on #PositivePostItDay and remember that WE made that happen with our own attitude. The attitude is what made the difference on that day!

As stated before, gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness. It is a perfect way to either start the journey of teaching children the lifelong skill in being mindful or to enhance mindfulness already being developed.

If you want to find out more about #PositivePostItDay read #PositivePostItDay. It really can be done on ANY day you want it to happen. Get other schools to join you and MAKE it happen!

If you want some simple ideas on how to keep that snowball rolling in the development of gratitude, read Mindfulness in the Classroom- Gratitude.

In the meantime, share your ideas in the comments section. I would love to hear about the impact showing gratitude has had on your school or your own lives.

Mindfulness in the Classroom- A Teacher’s Mindfulness

image

School staff stress is at an all time high! Changes in curriculum and testing, children’s behaviour, workload impact and teacher shortages are jeopardising the mental health of teachers on a daily basis. Anxiety, depression and complete mental breakdowns are becoming common place. It becomes a vicious cycle; one that seems impossible to break.

We know the importance of teaching children good mentally healthy strategies and habits. But, how can teaching this to children impact our own well-being?

According to research conducted by Katherine Weare for the .b Mindfulness in Schools Project in association with University of Exeter, in her report named, Impacts on the Wellbeing and Performance of School Staff, identifies that staff that use mindfulness strategies have been shown to:

image
Many of the strategies outlined in my previous posts in the Mindfulness in the Classroom series can be practiced just as easily by adults. Refreshing yourself about these mindfulness strategies and trying them yourself will give you a taster for what works best for you.

Mindfulness in the Classroom series

Mindfulness Starts Here

Mindful Colouring

Meditation

Gratitude

Breathing

Starfish Hand Meditation

Mindful Listening

Mindful Walking

Mind Jar Meditation

Yoga

Music

Mindful Eating

Emotional Intelligence

Mindful Doodling

Finger Labyrinths Meditation

I hear you moan, “But, I just don’t have time! “, “I have too many things to do!” or “I have too many things running through my head!”.

STOP! YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT!

My favourite quote is, “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!” So, if what you are doing is leaving you stressed, anxious or depressed, then you have to do something different NOW!

Can you give yourself 5-10 minutes a day to be mindful?

Are YOU worth a few moments?

In addition to what has been outlined in previous posts, here are some other mindful techniques that can easily fit into your day.

Deep Breathing– This triggers the relaxation response. The key to deep breathing is ensuring the exhale is longer than the inhale. There is a nerve called the Vagus nerve that runs down the diaphragm that tells our brain to slow down the turn down the sympathetic nervous system (that releases stress hormones) and turn up the parasympathetic nervous system that supports the lowering of heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure. This then calms us down. Top tip: On the exhale, ensure your shoulders relax.
-100 breathes technique– Breathe deeply 100 times, counting as you go. If this is too much, start off slowly with 10 breathes and add ten more each day or few days.
– 5 minute breathing– Set the timer on your phone and breathe deeply until the timer goes off.

Meditation– Meditation has shown to shrink the brain’s stress centre, the amygdaloid, and thickens the pre-frontal cortex that controls awareness, concentration and decision making. In short, the more you meditate the easier it becomes to meditate and find time for meditation.

Meditation does not require hours of sitting crossed legged while chanting. It does require you to be mindful of one present feeling.
– Everyday Activities– Simple everyday activities can become a meditation as long as you focus on the activity at hand; how it feels, how it smells, the sensations it brings, the sounds it makes. Examples: taking a shower, watching the kettle boil, drinking a cup of coffee/tea, brushing your teeth, sweeping the floor, putting on your clothes. Don’t multi task. Be mindful of the moment and allow other thoughts to float away.
– Guided meditations– There are many free guided meditations online in various lengths and with varying focus. There are also many free apps like Calm and Headspace. 5-10 minutes a day can mean saving hours of needless stress and anxiety that slows your pace.

Practising Gratitude– The act of kindness and gratitude triggers feelings of well-being. Remember, positivity begets positivity. Once you start to consciously show gratitude, it starts to become a good habit that happens naturally as that spiral of happiness feeds the cycle.
– #PositivePostItDay– Participate in things like #PositivePostItDay, Maybe make it your mission to do this everyday or once a week. An explaination can be found here: https://educationsvoice.wordpress.com/2016/02/21/positivepostitday/
– Random Acts of Kindness- This brightens everyone’s day. It doesn’t have to cost.
– ABC Appreciation Meditation– Mentally go through the alphabet and name one thing you are grateful for that starts with that letter; A- air I breathe B- Bobby my son, etc.

Hand/Mind Connection– If you find yourself in a stressful moment and the breathing techniques or simple meditations are not helping, immerse your hand in warm water (or rub your hands together quickly to warm them up). This opens the blood vessels and tricks your brain out of a stressful state.

The key is to find an inner peace that allows you to be the best teacher possible. Mindfulness may be what you are looking for to have a work life balance during these stressful times.

How do you practise mindfulness for your own mental health?

UPDATE:

Having problems meditating?

Read the post : A Teacher’s Mindfulness- I Can’t Stop Thinking! 

#PositivePostItDay

image

Have you heard of Positive Post It Day? Maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. That is ok.

A few years ago, a young lady in Canada called Caitlin Haacke, decided to take a stand against bullying. She tells her story On Tedx here: http://youtu.be/cElB84gf6uc.

She single handily has started a movement of positivity that is sweeping the world. Her belief that positivity begets positivity that began as an anti-bullying campaign, has led to children and adults alike considering their words carefully and filling the world with kindness, love and appreciation.

The impact of this young lady’s simple idea can be seen in this news report, http://youtu.be/0zLteIn7IS0 and this compilation video of the positive post it notes written in one day, http://youtu.be/87RC1NQgPzQ.

I have been left in awe by the inspiring, clearly mindful activity of gratitude, that has begun. It fits very clearly within my Mindfulness in the Classroom series, particularly Gratitude. These little Random Acts of Kindness can spark a change and belief in the compassion of humankind.

In schools, this is a perfect circle time, PHSCE lesson or Mindfulness activity. In work places, it is a mindful activity that encourages good mental health and well being.

Thus, I purpose we all join Caitlin in her a Positive Post Its and declare together, Tuesday 29th March 2016, #PositivePostItDay .

How can you participate?

1- Share this post with others and tweet, Face Book, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc letting others know about the day. Get it out there! Let me know you are joining us.

2- On the day, no matter where you are (schools, work, businesses, home, online, etc), create and share Positive Post It Notes (Be sure to watch the videos if you want some ideas.). Stick the notes on the walls, windows, books, online social media feeds, ANYWHERE!

3- If you share them online, make sure you tag them as #PositivePostItDay. Let’s paper the world in positivity one post it note at a time!

Time to stock up on Post It notes!